The ITRS is an objective way to assess trails and routes from a biker’s perspective. The ITRS informs the bikers about the requirements to safely master the various challenges of a trail or an entire route. For this purpose, four aspects are evaluated in the ITRS, which in their interaction reflect the fascination and complexity of mountain biking: Technical Difficulty, Endurance, Exposure and Wilderness.
The Swiss Bike Park and IMBA Europe (International Mountain Bicycling Association) have created the International Trail Rating System (ITRS) to classify the challenges of mountain bike trails and routes. The ITRS puts the bikers in the center and is a consistent advancement of the approaches of already existing systems. Numerous experts from various fields were involved in the development.
In 2020, there were at least 14 different trail rating systems in Europe alone to describe the “difficulty” of mountain bike trails and routes, whereby “difficulty” did not always evaluate the same aspects. Therefore, the Swiss Bike Park – the Swiss society project for the needs of top, popular and disabled sports in the field of mountain biking – together with Davos Klosters and other destination partners, initiated a project that aimed to standardize trail rating systems. This project has now resulted in the ITRS – International Trail Rating System.
Thanks to financial support from Innotour, the funding instrument of the Swiss state Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO, voluntary work of IMBA Europe and the support of the strategy consultancy Input Consulting in Bern, the contents of the ITRS have been developed and structured over two years. Central inputs were obtained through a survey among over 1,300 bikers from Europe and coordinated with numerous experts from riding skills training and trail building.
The ITRS is not a completely new system but instead a consistent and clearly structured combination and advancement of the most relevant previous systems. The ITRS is an objective way to assess trails and routes from a biker’s perspective. The ITRS informs the bikers about what they need to bring with them in order to safely master the various challenges of a trail or an entire route.
For countries with existing official trail rating systems the ITRS will not immediately replace the existing systems but each system will be revised occasionally and testing the ITRS in selected destinations can lead to new insights. On the other hand, for such countries that currently don’t have any trail rating system in place the ITRS can serve as a blueprint and can be implemented directly.